A pivotal moment in Naomi’s life takes a couple unexpected twists.
Naomi is young and determined to find out more about who she is – but she may have found more than she bargained for in Naomi #3 from DC Comics.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 20, 2019
Previously in Naomi: The title character is obsessed with Superman, who was seen briefly in her town. She is also adopted, and has been noticing coincidences that make her wonder more about her own birth and background. Could she possibly also be someone special? Strange things happened in town in the past, right around the time of her adoption, but no one will talk about them. Finally, she talks to Dee, a mechanic, who at least remembers something about that time, but he does not want to talk to her. Naomi finds a picture of him with a woman who looks like her – and he knows the date of her adoption. Could he be her real father?
MYSTERY AND DISAPPOINTMENT
As Naomi #3 opens, Naomi confronts Dee. He says they don’t mean anything to each other, but she is sure that he’s lying. He’s always been isolative, and he insists he has social anxiety. She persists, finally asking him point-blank if he is her father. Whatever he may know about her, he was not expecting this. But if he can assure her of one thing, it is that he and the woman in the photo were not her parents. I think this is well-written and compelling. It is a weakness of investigators that one can become focused on a theory to the point where one sees only facts that will fit it that theory, ignoring or misinterpreting others. Naomi is so focused on herself and her own mystery that that is all she can see.
Ultimately, Dee tells her his story. He talks about the Multiverse, and that he was a Thanagarian. He and Qyeala, the woman in the photo, were members of an elite secret force. In fact, she was the leader of the unit. They fell in love and wanted to get away from that life. The opportunity arose after a mission went badly and they became stranded on Gemworld. But they found out there was a hidden door that led to Earth. They took this, but on the way out, Qyeala was struck from behind and did not make it through the door. And now Dee is stranded on Earth. And he does not want to see Naomi tortured by an idea that is not true.
At this point, Naomi’s mom (Jennifer) shows up with a baseball bat, full of fury, to drag Naomi home. Apparently, she had Dee had some kind of deal, and she actually strikes him. As angry as she is, this has a thread of reality in it, that of a mother who is terribly protective of her daughter. Although her aggression is perhaps a bit more that we would expect. This is followed by a rather uncomfortable drive as Naomi’s mother continues to seethe, but her father is calm.
Naomi cannot stand it. Her world is crumbling around her. Everyone is not acting like they should and she wants to know why. Her father calmly says they have something to tell her, had been planning to tell her, but this has precipitated it. He takes her out in the woods and to a cave, promising that he’s not a killer like in a horror movie. And then there’s a big reveal, and it is not what Naomi was anticipating, and it could be devastating.
ON THE CUSP OF ADULTHOOD
The art of Naomi #3 deftly strikes a balance between the otherworldly and the mundane, and between a young person and the adults around her. When we see her confronting Dee, she is so focused, so emotionally intense; she has built up the mystery around her life to the point where it is consuming her, and after years she feels she is finally close to some answers. On the other side of the conversation, we see Dee as looking vulnerable, as really wanting to get away, but knowing he can’t just fling her out. Well, he could, but he recognizes that she’s a kid, and he doesn’t want to hurt her, but he also knows that life is more complicated than she yet understands. There is so much more than words here; the depth of expression is wonderful.
When Jennifer comes in after Naomi, there is so much energy to the art, it comes as a surprise, as much to us as to Naomi. Everything feels louder, which is an interesting way to describe a visual art. The scene in the car is emotionally powerful, and we can identify with it – who among us has not had an uncomfortable moment with their parents at some point? But Jennifer is actually seething, and it gives me a twinge that this story is going to open up much, much more. The contrast with her dad is almost weird – he is certainly thoughtful, but in the face of so much anger, he is unusually calm. I like that they play the horror movie riff, because it sure feels like one, and Naomi is in such turmoil that she would feel this keenly.
BOTTOM LINE: COME FOR THE MYSTERY, STAY FOR THE OTHERWORLDLY
I really like Naomi #3. She is an engaging character, young and full of flaws but also full of heart. I think we can identify with her – who among us has not hoped that we were special? I like that the story is grounded in the everyday world, and that while superheroes are part of that world, the story has its roots in the normal parts of life.